the gear” … “WOOF, sir!”
most airline jet aircraft, the forward cargo compartment is heated.
That, therefore, is where we can carry live animals. If the heater
fails, the Minimum Equipment List stipulates that no live animals
may be loaded.
were the last flight that night from
. I’d noted that we have no forward cargo bin heater and the
rules precluded carrying live animals in that compartment.
The ramp agent arrived in the
cockpit to tell me about a dog in a kennel. “Well, I’m sorry”,
I commented, “but, as you know, we can’t load him.” The
baggage handler felt compassion for the pup, and asked if I’d
come down and look at the kennel and situation.
that dark ramp, I was seeing about one-third of that kennel. It
looked small to me. I said: “Oh, heck. Bring it up to the
boarding door and let’s see what we can negotiate with the
contained a full-grown Spaniel, weighing about
. The flight attendants immediately stated: “No way! You can’t
put him in the galley. We have no room anywhere for that kennel.
No way!” I asked the agent to see if the kennel would even fit
in the cockpit, on the floor, behind the pilots. It wouldn’t
even fit through the door.
we examined the possibilities, a bespectacled, gentle looking man
with evident sadness in his eyes came up front and asked: “Am I
going to have to stay in
? That’s my dog.”
said: “Well, I hope not. We’re trying to figure something
added: “We were booked on Northwest and they cancelled the
flight. They rebooked us on TWA. I’m just coming from my
father’s funeral. That was his dog. I’m trying to take Babe
asked: “How old is that dog?”
nine years old.”
The sweetest pup on the planet.”
I want all of you flight attendants to form a wall so the
passengers don’t observe this. Take him out of the kennel, put
him in the cockpit and latch him to that cargo strap. No one is to
come up here or open that door en route. I want every passenger
off the airplane before I bring Babe out of here.”
Babe lay down and slept the whole way. Occasionally I reached back
to scratch his ears and he licked my hand. He was truly “the
sweetest pup on the planet.”
, I took off my belt, looped it around Babe’s collar and led her
up the jetway. The Station Manager was astounded: “You can’t
do that! That is illegal?”
illegal,” I asked?
a dog in the cockpit!”
now wait a minute,” I replied. “I looked in the Flight
Operations Policy manual and it says you cannot, under any
circumstances, carry a dog in the cabin in other than a kennel. It
says nothing about the cockpit. Besides, that dog was twice as
smart as my copilot and I needed her help.”
new Pappy was delighted. I was too. It’s nice to be nice to nice
the crew van, the copilot said: “That was really nice of you.
You better hope he doesn’t write a letter of commendation.”
I never thought of that. And he did write one.
was informed of his letter by an inter-company complimentary
letter from the Chief Pilot. The owner’s letter appeared in the
Reservation Agent’s monthly publication: “Capt. Gwinn gave my
dog genuine first class service. We are forever grateful.” It
was reprinted twice elsewhere.
had a Junior Captain certificate made up for Babe and also sent a
set of the plastic Captain’s wings.
day I asked the Chief Pilot if he wanted to hear “the whole
story” on the transportation of the dog.
sure I don’t want to know”, he replied.
info on Dave Gwinn (1969 – 1999) and his colorful and often
humorous career flying the line can be found at his web site,
new book, “Airways & Airwaves, Stories I Tell to Friends”,
is expected to be published in November 2005.